Employer Branding key to attracting top talent


Drastic changes are looming for Canada’s workforce.  Within the next five to 10 years, an alarming number of baby boomers will leave the private and public sectors and the Insurance Institute of Canada’s first demographic report projects that 25 per cent of the current workforce could retire by 2017.With these significant demographic changes looming on the horizon, the fight to attract and retain top talent will become a fierce battleground.

A workforce now largely dominated by baby boomers—they currently make up 50 per cent of Canada’s working body—will soon be replaced by Generation Y. The challenges of selecting from a smaller talent pool will be compounded by the need to attract a group with different values and priorities than previous generations. The shift is already underway as the first cohort of baby boomers reaches the age of 65 this year. But are Canadian companies prepared?
Developing an engaging and genuine employer brand can help companies attract the right talent and retain them for the long run. A workplace that lives and breathes the corporate values put forward by the organization on a daily basis will allow all employees to become more passionate about their work and will increase overall satisfaction.

“Work occupies a different place in the life of Gen Y employees than it does for baby boomers,” says Jan-Hein Bax, President of Randstad Canada.  “Gen Y wants flexibility and options from their employers. They want to make a positive difference, and feel good about what they do.  They look for employers who have a strong community consciousness and companies need to recognize this to position themselves for the changes that will take place over the next few years.”

Employers need to remember that talking the talk is not going to cut it with the next generation of employees. Companies need to truly evaluate their organizations from the top down.  It’s more than a fancy advertising campaign. If Canadian companies want to hire and retain the best employees, they will need to take a hard look in the mirror and start walking the walk too. This can only happen when employer branding strategies are initiated, supported and led at the most senior levels in a company and, are an inherent of the organizational culture.

So how do you do it? Creating an employer brand is a research-intensive and exhaustive process but a loyal and productive workforce comprised of top talent is well worth the investment.


1.    Research, Research, Research: What is the main challenge you are facing? Who do you want to attract? What are the ideal skills and competencies you are looking for in an employee?  If you are struggling to retain employees, why are they leaving? Identify what you wish to accomplish and set baseline metrics to measure success. Make sure everyone is involved in the process.  Do the math for your own workforce: how many will you have to replace, what is the proportion of baby boomers versus Gen Y…

2.    Do you have the buy-in of top management? Employer culture must be a value that is communicated and believed in from the top-down in an organization. To garner support, show them the numbers. What will be the return on investment that can be measured through metrics such as cost per hire, retention rate, and engagement index?

3.    Alignment to corporate strategy: Excellent employer brands do not stand alone. They are in line with the overall company brand. Make sure the employer brand possesses the company’s key values.

4.    Communicate with more than just words: Determine how the brand will be communicated to employees, executives and third parties. Make sure the brand message is prevalent from the get-go: in your job descriptions, on your website, your reception area.  A brand needs to be felt when walking in the front door.

5.    Walking the walk and talking the talk: A brand can’t be just about the spin. Employees need to see real results.